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Chapter 19 – Rinkitink Chuckles

L. Frank BaumOct 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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We will now relate what happened to Rinkitink and
Bilbil that morning, while Inga was undergoing his
trying experience in escaping the fearful dangers of
the three caverns.

The King of Gilgad wakened to find the door of Inga’s
room fast shut and locked, but he had no trouble in
opening his own door into the corridor, for it seems
that the boy’s room, which was the middle one, whirled
around on a pivot, while the adjoining rooms occupied
by Bilbil and Rinkitink remained stationary. The little
King also found a breakfast magically served in his
room, and while he was eating it, Klik came to him and
stated that His Majesty, King Kaliko, desired his
presence in the royal cavern.

So Rinkitink, having first made sure that the Pink
Pearl was still in his vest pocket, willingly followed
Klik, who ran on some distance ahead. But no sooner had
Rinkitink set foot in the passage than a great rock,
weighing at least a ton, became dislodged and dropped
from the roof directly over his head. Of course, it
could not harm him, protected as he was by the Pink
Pearl, and it bounded aside and crashed upon the floor,
where it was shattered by its own weight.

“How careless!” exclaimed the little King, and
waddled after Klik, who seemed amazed at his escape.

Presently another rock above Rinkitink plunged
downward, and then another, but none touched his body.
Klik seemed much perplexed at these continued escapes
and certainly Kaliko was surprised when Rinkitink, safe
and sound, entered the royal cavern.

“Good morning,” said the King of Gilgad. “Your rocks
are getting loose, Kaliko, and you’d better have them
glued in place before they hurt someone.” Then he began
to chuckle: “Hoo, hoo, hoo-hee, hee-heek, keek, eek!”
and Kaliko sat and frowned because he realized that the
little fat King was poking fun at him.

“I asked Your Majesty to come here,” said the Nome
King, “to show you a curious skein of golden thread
which my workmen have made. If it pleases you, I will
make you a present of it.”

With this he held out a small skein of glittering
gold twine, which was really pretty and curious.
Rinkitink took it in his hand and at once the golden
thread began to unwind — so swiftly that the eye could
not follow its motion. And, as it unwound, it coiled
itself around Rinkitink’s body, at the same time
weaving itself into a net, until it had enveloped the
little King from head to foot and placed him in a
prison of gold.

“Aha!” cried Kaliko; “this magic worked all right, it
seems.

“Oh, did it?” replied Rinkitink, and stepping forward
he walked right through the golden net, which fell to
the floor in a tangled mass

Kaliko rubbed his chin thoughtfully and stared hard
at Rinkitink.

“I understand a good bit of magic,” said ,he, “but
Your Majesty has a sort of magic that greatly puzzles
me, because it is unlike anything of the sort that I
ever met with before.”

“Now, see here, Kaliko,” said Rinkitink; “if you are
trying to harm me or my companions, give it up, for you
will never succeed. We’re harm-proof, so to speak, and
you are merely wasting your time trying to injure us.

“You may be right, and I hope I am not so impolite as
to argue with a guest,” returned the Nome King. “But
you will pardon me if I am not yet satisfied that you
are stronger than my famous magic. However, I beg you
to believe that I bear you no ill will, King Rinkitink;
but it is my duty to destroy you, if possible, because
you and that insignificant boy Prince have openly
threatened to take away my captives and have positively
refused to go back to the earth’s surface and let me
alone. I’m very tender-hearted, as a matter of fact,
and I like you immensely, and would enjoy having you as
a friend, but –” Here he pressed a button on the arm
of his throne chair and the section of the floor where
Rinkitink stood suddenly opened and disclosed a black
pit beneath, which was a part of ‘the terrible
Bottomless Gulf.

But Rinkitink did not fall into the pit; his body
remained suspended in the air until he put out his foot
and stepped to the solid floor, when the opening
suddenly closed again.

“I appreciate Your Majesty’s friendship,” remarked
Rinkitink, as calmly as if nothing had happened, “but I
am getting tired with standing. Will you kindly send
for my goat, Bilbil, that I may sit upon his back to
rest?”

“Indeed I will!” promised Kaliko. “I have not yet
completed my test of your magic, and as I owe that goat
a slight grudge for bumping my head and smashing my
second-best crown, I will be glad to discover if the
beast can also escape my delightful little sorceries.”

So Klik was sent to fetch Bilbil and presently
returned with the goat, which was very cross this
morning because it had not slept well in the
underground caverns.

Rinkitink lost no time in getting upon the red velvet
saddle which the goat constantly wore, for he feared
the Nome King would try to destroy Bilbil and knew that
as long as his body touched that of the goat the Pink
Pearl would protect them both; whereas, if Bilbil stood
alone, there was no magic to save him.

Bilbil glared wickedly at King Kaliko, who moved
uneasily in his ivory throne. Then the Nome King
whispered a moment in the ear of Klik, who nodded and
left the room.

“Please make yourselves at home here for a few
minutes, while I attend to an errand,” said the Nome
King, getting up from the throne. “I shall return
pretty soon, when I hope to find you pieceful — ha,
ha, ha! — that’s a joke you can’t appreciate now but
will later. Be pieceful — that’s the idea. Ho, ho, ho!
How funny.” Then he waddled from the cavern, closing
the door behind him.

“Well, why didn’t you laugh when Kaliko laughed?”
demanded the goat, when they were left alone in the
cavern.

“Because he means mischief of some sort,” replied
Rinkitink, “and we’ll laugh after the danger is over,
Bilbil. There’s an old adage that says: ‘He laughs best
who laughs last,’ and the only way to laugh last is to
give the other fellow a chance. Where did that knife
come from, I wonder.”

For a long, sharp knife suddenly appeared in the air
near them, twisting and turning from side to side and
darting here and there in a dangerous manner, without
any support whatever. Then another knife became visible
— and another and another — until all the space in
the royal cavern seemed filled with them. Their sharp
points and edges darted toward Rinkitink and Bilbil
perpetually and nothing could have saved them from
being cut to pieces except the protecting power of the
Pink Pearl. As it was, not a knife touched them and
even Bilbil gave a gruff laugh at the failure of
Kaliko’s clever magic.

The goat wandered here and there in the cavern,
carrying Rinkitink upon his back, and neither of them
paid the slightest heed to the knives, although the
glitter of the hundreds of polished blades was rather
trying. to their eyes. Perhaps for ten minutes the
knives darted about them in bewildering fury; then they
disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared.

Kaliko cautiously stuck his head through the doorway
and found the goat chewing the embroidery of his royal
cloak, which he had left lying over the throne, while
Rinkitink was reading his manuscript on “How to be
Good” and chuckling over its advice. The Nome King
seemed greatly disappointed as he came in and resumed
his seat on the throne. Said Rinkitink with a chuckle:

“We’ve really had a peaceful time, Kaliko, although
not the pieceful time you expected. Forgive me if I
indulge in a laugh — hoo, hoo, hoo-hee, heek-keek-eek!
And now, tell me; aren’t you getting tired of trying to
injure us?”

“Eh — heh,” said the Nome King. “I see now that your
magic can protect you from all my arts. But is the boy
Inga as, well protected as Your Majesty and the goat?’

“Why do you ask?” inquired Rinkitink, uneasy at the
question because he remembered he had not seen the
little Prince of Pingaree that morning.

“Because,” said Kaliko, “the boy has been undergoing
trials far greater and more dangerous than any you have
encountered, and it has been hundreds of years since
anyone has been able to escape alive from the perils of
my Three Trick Caverns.”

King Rinkitink was much alarmed at hearing this, for
although he knew that Inga possessed the Blue Pearl,
that would only give to him marvelous strength, and
perhaps strength alone would not enable him to escape
from danger. But he would not let Kaliko see the fear
he felt for Inga’s safety, so he said in a careless
way:

“You’re a mighty poor magician, Kaliko, and I’ll give
you my crown if Inga hasn’t escaped any danger you have
threatened him with.”

“Your whole crown is not worth one of the valuable
diamonds in my crown,” answered the Nome King, “but
I’ll take it. Let us go at once, therefore, and see
what has become of the boy Prince, for if he is not
destroyed by this time I will admit he cannot be
injured by any of the magic arts which I have at my
command.”

He left the room, accompanied by Klik, who had now
rejoined his master, and by Rinkitink riding upon
Bilbil. After traversing several of the huge caverns
they entered one that was somewhat more bright and
cheerful than the others, where the Nome King paused
before a wall of rock. Then Klik pressed a secret
spring and a section of the wall opened and disclosed
the corridor where Prince Inga stood facing them.

“Tarts and tadpoles!” cried Kaliko in surprise. “The
boy is still alive!”

 

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